Dear Superintendents and School Leaders,
I'm writing with updates on several COVID-19-related items that have arisen since my last message.
2021-22 Outlook for Schools
school-specific outlook, in an effort to provide as much transparency and lead-time for planning as possible, including historical context on where we have been, what we have learned, and expected conditions for the next school year. The presentation does not include any directives, guidance, or
State Adds Guidance on Tested and Fully Vaccinated Visitors and Spectators
CDPH has updated the Blueprint Activity & Business Tiers Chart
(see pages 8-9) to address the impact of tested and fully vaccinated individuals on tier guidance. Among other things, the updates specify that:
- Fully vaccinated persons from out of state may visit or attend activities or events that are restricted to in-state visitors.
- Where capacity limits exist, fully vaccinated workers do not count toward any occupancy capacity limit.
- Venues that have fully vaccinated or tested negative attendees only may increase their capacity as specified, unless a different capacity limit is specified for that sector in the grid.
- Fully vaccinated-only sections must be separate, distinct, and clearly marked from any other section of the venue that is set aside for tested attendees.
- Individuals in the fully vaccinated-only sections do not have to be physically distanced. Face coverings are required.
- Fully vaccinated-only sections may be seated at full capacity within that section only.
First-Dose Vaccination Appointment Opportunity to Close Soon
With almost no remaining demand for first-dose vaccination appointments, and second-dose appointments well underway, VEBA has asked that school leaders let their employees know that the last batch of first-dose appointments at VEBA sites is available this weekend, through Sharp Healthcare. Beginning Monday, April 19, VEBA will be closed to first-dose appointments. Please note that beginning Friday, April 16 at noon, VEBA will no longer process employee roster files provided by schools.
Please also assure your employees that this will not impact their second-dose appointments. If an employee was vaccinated by Sharp, they will receive an email about five to seven days prior to their return date with instructions on how to make their second-dose appointment. Employees who received their first-dose from UC San Diego Health were automatically scheduled for their second dose appointment when they received their first dose.
I am so grateful to VEBA, Sharp, and UC San Diego Health for their effort to vaccinate the county’s TK-12 education workforce. The process they provided was fast, efficient, and trouble-free. In all, more than 27,000 employees have been vaccinated through VEBA’s sites.
Return to Physical Activity
The American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) is warning that a return to physical activity, including organized sports, physical education classes, and informal physical activities, has the potential to cause heart damage or death in some individuals. Given this risk, the AAP recommends
that children who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 within the past six months refrain from engaging in physical activity until they have been cleared by their physician.
Once cleared, those age 12 and older can begin a graduated return-to-play protocol involving a progression of activities performed over a minimum course of seven days, with an extended progression for individuals who experienced moderate COVID-19 symptoms. Those under age 12 can return to physical activity, as tolerated.
The AAP also advises that students and their parents/caregivers be educated to monitor for chest pain, shortness of breath (that is out-of-proportion from usual), new-onset palpitations, or dizziness/lightheadedness when returning to exercise. If any of these signs and/or symptoms occur, the AAP recommends another evaluation by the primary care provider, and that consideration be given for pediatric cardiology consultation.
SDCOE’s medical consultant, Dr. Howard Taras, recommends that schools take the following actions:
- Send this message (available in English and Spanish) to parents
- Identify students who are known to have had COVID-19 within the last six months
- Create systems to ensure that PE teachers, JROTC, marching band, and other supervisors of aerobic activities are notified about these students
- Students who have not been cleared by their physician may not participate in aerobic activity until six months after their COVID-19 diagnosis. They may remain in the program, as long as modifications are in place to avoid aerobic activity.
- School staff may be required to implement and monitor the phased return to play protocol as ordered by each child’s physician.
Resources to Help with School Reopening
The U.S. Department of Education, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and Harvard School of Public Health have all released guidance to help schools and districts with reopening:
- The U.S. Department of Education's Volume 2 of the ED COVID-19 Handbook: Roadmap to Reopening Safely and Meeting All Students’ Needs is intended to offer initial strategies for providing equitable and adequate educational opportunities that address the impact of COVID-19 on students, educators, and staff by focusing on a variety of evidence-based strategies. Volume 1, which was recently updated, aids educators in implementing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s school reopening guidance by addressing common challenges and providing practical examples.
- Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the Bloomberg School of Public Health have created a set of self-paced modules designed to answer practical questions about school reopening and help evaluate current strategies for schools already open. There are several short videos embedded in the modules that go into more depth or provide additional examples.
- The Harvard School of Public Health has created a COVID-19 Risk Calculator to help individuals gain an understanding of how to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in indoor environments using affordable control strategies.
Thank you for all you are doing during these unprecedented times. As always, please let me know if you have any questions or need support.
Dr. Paul Gothold
San Diego County Superintendent of Schools